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Mr. Coulton's vivid picture of mediaeval life, derived largely from the chronicle of Salimbene, raises a most interesting question. The period it covers is that between St. Francis and Savonarola, those three centuries, the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth, which are, if any, the age of faith. To say that this period was not an age of morality is to use the figure of speech known as litotes. The evidence of wickedness, especially among the clergy, is given, happily for the general reader, in Latin. No purpose can be served by presenting these revolting details to the eyes of the public. Yet the general conclusion is one which the public is entitled to know. Indeed, no more salutary lesson is to be learnt, for religious teachers and for the rising generation, than the connection between morality and religion which here receives copious illustration.
There is a loose assumption underlying most modem criticism of Churches, that religion and
morality are identical. But in reality no two things are in their beginnings wider apart. So far from
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being identical, their identification is a slow and arduous achievement. To accomplish that identification is the main purpose of human evolution. That Christianity identifies them is its main distinction. It is the first religion which explicitly and frankly makes the two inseparable. That is the strongest line of defence, its chief claim on the adhesion and the gratitude of mankind. A book like Mr. Coulton's reminds us how slowly the Christian idea made its way, against what overwhelming obstacles it had to contend, and how often in the history of the Church it almost vanished out of sight.
If religion and morality are not yet brought to2
gether in practice, if the divorce is still flagrant, if ethical societies are formed for the purpose of carrying out the morality which the Churches neglect, if infidelity finds its weapons with which to fight religion in the immorality of religious persons and institutions, there is less cause for astonishment and discouragement than at first sight appears. The one great and constant and irrefragable fact to the good is, that Christianity does identify religion and morality, and therefore affords the most powerful engine in the world for making religion moral. That at any rate is a fait accompli. Here is a vast major premiss which, before Christ came, was wanting. It stands, however bad the minor premiss of practice may be, however illegitimate the conclusion drawn from the premisses may seem. Here
is a Statement of Mr. Carnegie Simpson's, which in its crisp distinctness affords us a good startingpoint for the argument :
"In the civilization of the Roman Empire — a civilization in some respects more elaborate than ours — religion was something absolutely apart from morality. The priests and augurs of ancient Greece and Rome never for one moment regarded it as any part of their duty to exhort or help men to a purer life. Alike public life and private were steeped in a heartlessness of cruelty and an abandonment of vice such as we can hardly realize; but the pagan religion made no protest, for, on the contrary, its mysteries often screened and its ministers sanctioned the grossest iniquities. It is this entire divorce between religion and morality in the ancient world which supplies the explanation, as Mr. Lecky has pointed out, of the apparently strange circmnstance that the classical philosophical moralists pay so little attention to the appearance of Christianity. One would suppose that that religion, as a mere system of ethics, apart from any theological beliefs, would have commanded the notice of all serious men. But so we can imagine the philosophers who were in earnest about moral things saying: Is this not a religion? and what has a re4
ligion to do with the matter of moral life? Thus argued, and most naturally, such men as Plutarch, or Seneca, or Epictetus, or M. Aurelius, and thus before the eyes of these great moralists emerged
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what was to be the supreme moral phenomenon of history, and they gave it hardly a glance." *
If this sounds a paradox to the reader, it is only because the fundamental idea of Christianity, viz., that religion and morality are identical, has so permeated the modem mind, that it is assiuned even by sceptics in their criticism of the Churches. If ecclesiastical history presents everywhere the most painful discord between religion and morality, that is only a reminder that Christianity is not identical with the Church, or at any rate that the Church is only struggling to realize the Christian
ideal. The failures at which we are about to glance do not disprove Christianity, they only show that Churches and Christians are not yet Christian.
Suppose we establish it as our first principle, not open to serious debate, that the distinctive feature of Christianity is the identification of religion and morality. Without as yet determining what the religion is, or what the morality is, let it be granted that the two are one. Morality cannot admit a religion which violates it; religion cannot sanction immorality. The religious truth has its counterpart in the moral life; the moral life is the test and the evidence of the religion. There is no divorce, but an indissoluble union. This is the Christian doctrine, or philosophy, or revelation. This is Christianity. To this, no doubt, the Law and the Prophets were working up, slowly, and not
»"The Fact of Christ," p. 54.
without many backwashes; to this, no doubt, the great minds of all ages pointed — Buddha, Confucius, Plato; all the religions of the world were visited with occasional twinges of conscience, and inasmuch as they were held by men who also had a moral nature, ever and anon the sigh went up that the two might be one — " Oh, might the margins meet again!"
Some haunting, vanishing reminiscence of a Golden Age caused a vague discomfort: How can the august Ought in the conscience be separated from the august Vanma, or Zeus, on the throne of the Universe?
But the achievement of Christianity was, that religion was presented as an ideal morality, and, embodied in the person and character of Jesus, was identified with God. Ceremonial terms, like "sanctification" and "holiness," "profane" and "unclean," were either dropped or transformed. There was only one term retained — "goodness." God is good, and man must be good too. Christ
came to be good, and to make men good. There at last shone out the lucid truth of things. That is essentially the one all-embracing revelation.
It need not surprise us that the truth was not inmiediately grasped. How could it have been? It had to be grasped by men, by thinkers, by races, ^ that were obsessed with alien notions, with ancient custom, with stains in the blood. All the persons who embraced the gospel were persons brought
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up in the alienation of religion and morality; the pagan view of things was strong in them. We are startled with the outcrop of rabbinical Judaism in Paul; still more startling is the outcrop of the extraJudaic paganism in Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, or Origen. The revelation of Christ was before their eyes and in their ears, but the ideas and practices of paganism were in their hearts, formed their subliminal consciousness, coloured all the doctrines
which they accepted, "J. B/' in his fascinating optimism takes the view that the departure from religion which we see in the modem world is really the surrender of the old paganism which was incorporated with religion. As compulsion is withdrawn, and we are all at liberty to think, we give up the traditions, the survivals, the accretions. We go back to Christianity; we look Christ in the face.
It can hardly therefore be matter for surprise that the ages of faith were also the dark ages, that the true Christianity was working its way through great obstacles, against the deadweight of surviving paganism.
With this preliminary explanation we may look at Mr. Coulton's facts, and learn from them.
"The * Chronicle of Meaux' was written at the Cistercian abbey of that name in Yorkshire, by Abbot Thomas, of Burton, at the end of the fourteenth century. On p. 89 of Vol. III. he speaks of Pope Clement VI.,* who instituted the fifty years'
* Pope from 1342 to 1352, a.d.
jubilee, and against whom the Cistercians as a body had certainly no grudge. The chronicler goes on: *Now this same Pope Clement VI. had been lecherous beyond measure his whole life long. For every night at vespertide he was wont, after the cardinals' audience, to hold a public audience of all matrons and honourable women who wished to come. At last some men, speaking ill of him on this accoimt, began to stand by the palace doors and secretly to number the women who went in and who came out. And when they had done this for many days, there was ever one lacking at their egress from the number of those who had entered in. When therefore many scandals and obloquies arose on this accoimt, the confessor of the Lord Pope warned him frequently to desist from such conduct, and to live chastely and more cautiously. But he ever made the same answer: "Thus have
we been wont to do when we were young, and what we now do we do by counsel of our physicians." But when the Pope was aware that his brethren the cardinals and his auditors and the rest of the Court murmured and spake ill of him on this account, one day he brought in his bosom a little black book wherein he had the names written of his divers predecessors in the Papal chair who were lecherous and- incontinent; and he showed by the facts therein recorded that these had better ruled the Church, and done more good, than the other continent popes. Moreover on the same day he raised tb
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the cardinalate one of his sons, a boy of siirteen, who was afterwards Pope Gregory XI. This Clement VI. was succeeded by Innocent VI., who like his predecessor Clement, promoted his own sons and brethren and nephews to cardinals and bishops, so that scarce any were left in the sacred college who were not of his kin or of the aforesaid
Clement's. The chronicler's accoimt is, no doubt, exaggerated, in parts at least; but the significance of the story lies in the fact that it was believed and recorded for posterity by a man in Abbot Burton's position. Hardly less significant is the praise occasionally bestowed on popes of exceptional virtue. Peter of Herenthals thinks it worth while to note that Gregory XI. 'died a virgin in mind and body as some have asserted'; and similarly Wadding is proud to record of Salimbene's Nicholas III., 'he kept perpetual virginity.'"
Indeed, the scandal sometimes forced even the laity to interfere. In 1340 the King of France felt bound to complain publicly to the Pope, who had legitimized "three brothers bom of a detestable imion — that is to say, of a bishop in pontifical dignity, degree, or order, and an unmarried woman. The word in the original being Pontifex, it is possible that the father may have been one of the Pope's predecessors, several of whom were notoriously unchaste." *
The singular thing is that not Rome, but the
* "From St. Francis to Dante," Coulton, p. 426.
]^apal comi;, was, in the ages of faith, the scene of this moral depravity. Avignon became as Rome when the Pope resided there. Constance was as Avignon when the Council met there. "Petrarch has still harder words for Avignon" — Mr. Coulton has just quoted a visitor to Rome who describes the city as one continuous brothel — " during the years of the Pope's abode there; and its common nickname of *the sinful city,' finds its way even into English parliamentary documents of the time. Exactly the same complaint was made against the city of Constance during the sitting of the Great Council in the next century. The iniquities of the city of Rome itself have always been proverbial; both Boccaccio and Benvenuto da Imola refer to them as notorious, and they are silently admitted even by Father Ryder in his reply to Littledale's
' Plain Reasons.' " *
Sometimes the popes have been better than the bishops. For example, at the Council of Lyons the good Gregory X. roundly asserted that the prelates were "the cause of the ruin of the whole world." By exerting his full power he forced the princebishop Henry of Lifege to resign. This great prelate had two abbesses and a nun among his concubines; and he boasted of having had fourteen children in twenty-two months.
Of course this inner corruption implied outer corruption too. The ages of faith, as they have
^ Coulton, loc, cit. p. 283.
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been called, were unutterably miserable.. "Italy J' says Mr. Coulton, "remained for generation after generation in a state of anarchy and misery which
among our own annals can be paralleled only in Stephen's reign, when men said that God and his saints slept. Yet the sad facts must be faced; for it was from this violent ferment that noble minds like St. Francis and Dante took much of that special flavour which appeals so strongly to the modem literary mind. Here, as on many other points, Salimbene's evidence is all the more valuable that he himself was neither saint nor poet, but a clever, observant, S3rmpathetic man with nothing heroic in his composition." *
Here, then, we have the extraordinary anomaly, that the religion which in its inception was identical with morality became in the age before the Reformation not only divorced from it, but wedded to immorality of the grossest type. The religion developed along the lines of an imperial political organization. The supreme ruler of the system was a sovereign, a king of kings, (Jod's vicegerent on earth, designated "Our Lord God the Pope.'' ^ This exalted and absolute representative of Christ, the Foimder of the religion, might be, and often was, immoral, without impairing his authority or shaking
the faith of the Church. Good Churchmen, like Abbot Burton, would admit the immorality without
* Coulton, op, cit. p. 132.
" "Corpus Juris Canonici " (Extrav. Johannis xxii. Tit xiv.).
questioning the religious authority of the head of the Church. Nay, to this day more than half of nominal Christendom is of the same opinion. The loyal Roman Catholic can read the story of Clement VI., or of Alexander VI., and maintain that such men were the Vicars of Christ. The Roman Catholic admits in the very centre of his spiritual life the separation between religion and morality. The Church, with Clement VI. at its head, with a Curia such as is described by Petrarch, producing the misery and anarchy of Italy in the age described by Mr. Coulton, is yet the "holy" Catholic Chiu"ch. Holiness does not mean good16
ness. The Holy Father does not mean necessarily a good man. Though the priest be morally corrupt he is still able by his word to "create his Creator," or by another word to absolve the penitent.
It is not altogether astonishing that in the ethical revival which is visiting the modem world men who are reverent to ethical ideals should break away from the Church. The Church which claims the title of Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic has made the same divorce between religion and morality which occurs in the other religions of the world. The religious claim is other than ethical. The vicegerents of God need not be good, and therefore, it would follow, the God whom they represent need not be good. If Catholicism is identical with Christianity it can be no cause for astonishment that men with
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ethical ideals should turn away from Christianity.
A Church which regards Clement VI. as the vicegerent of God — the Vicar for Christ on the earth — which demands for such a representative the reverence and obedience which are due to Christ, must encounter the imcompromising resistance of all who identify religion and morality. If we have reason to believe that such an identification is the distinctive feature of Christianity, we are forced to the conclusion that this Church is not Christian. It is a mistake to renounce Christianity because ethical truth requires us to renounce the Church. The Reformation was a desperate, blind eflfort to reassert the major premiss of Christianity. Get beneath the cross currents of the surface, and you find that the deep, irresistible tide of the movement flows from an outraged conscience. Everything else is temporary and incidental. The political intrigues, revolts, and aspirations which attempted to exploit the Reformation must be distinguished from the Reformation itself. Even the limitations and passions and ancient prejudices of the Reformers themselves must be put aside. Whether we regard Wicklif the morning star, or Luther the meridian light, of the movement, we ought not to
miss the simplicity and sincerity of the motive.
Here was the discovery, shall we say in Scripture, or in the deep inner testimony of the human spirit itself in the evolution of time? that the all- important factor of human life is goodness, and that the re-
ligion which for a thousand years had dominated and moulded Europe was not good and did not make men good. If the Imperial Court of the religion is also the centre of moral corruption, of unscrupulous intrigue, of amazing avarice, ambition, and obscurantism, the religion stands condemned.
In that great moral uprising Europe would have broken with Christianity altogether but for one thing. There was a book — like that book brought to Josiah from the recesses of the Temple, six centuries before Christ — hidden away in the dusty libraries of the Church, a venerated Law-book,
but unstudied and practically unknown. This Book was unearthed. By the recent discovery of printing it could be circulated. By the labours of scholars like Erasmus and (Ecolampadius it could be given to the world in the vernacular. It was this Book which saved the situation. It had the authority of antiquity; it was admitted by all the Fathers of the Church to be the sole guide for doctrine and practice. Practically unknown as it was, it was carefully preserved. Obscured as it was by tradition, its pristine value and meaning were still treasured.
Not only the scholar, but the plain man, could see two things in this book : first, that its condemnation of the Church was no less clear than the voice of his own conscience; the whole system which presented itself as Christianity was refuted by the Book which was presumably its authority; its j)opular doctrines, rites, practices, objects of devotion, con-
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ception of God, ideals of life, were unknown, and implicitly repudiated, in that Book. Secondly, the Book showed the original message of Christianity, and behold, it was that identification of religion and morality for which the conscience was crying out !
It became apparent, and has remained apparent ever since, that to repudiate the Church is not to break with Christianity; it may, on the contrary, be to go back to it. It is Christianity itself which united religion and morality, and justified the better instinct that makes morality the criterion of religion.
If Protestantism is a failure, as Dr. Newman Smyth ' implies that it is in America, and as it would seem to be from the decay of Protestant Churches on the Continent, the alternative is not a return to Catholicism, but a return to Christianity. Protestantism may have failed to settle a final creed, or to establish Church institutions, it may have failed in its cultus and in its organization, but in one thing it has completely succeeded: it has made the return to Catholicism impossible for progressive nations and for fearless lovers of truth. If it has not success21
fully presented the truth of Christianity, it has at any rate demonstrated that the truth of Christianity is very different from Catholic truth ; and it has made an impression on the thinking part of Europe, which can never be removed, that Christianity means the identification of religion and morality. The idea
* Cf, "Passing Protestantism and Coming Catholicism/' by Newman Smyth (Scribners).
that Clement VI., with his systematic lechery, could by any possibility be the vicegerent of Christ on earth has passed away forever from Christendom. No dogmatic assertion, no terrors of ecclesiastical censure, will ever convince that growing part of the modem world which has attained its freedom, or alter that instinctive major premiss which is written in the conscience. To the assertion that the Pope was the Vicar of Christ it is now a suflScient answer : "But he was not good." This Protestantism has
done once for all. Catholicism has no future unless it alters its fundamental dogma. The moral sense of the world, since Luther, has become stronger than the Church. But a return to Christianity is possible because of the Book. The place of morality in the Bible is singular and most interesting. There is no exact parallel in any other religion or literature. The Bible does not confuse morality with religion, but from first to last it maintains the indissoluble union. In the Bible the religion grows, and the morality grows, but the tie between them is so close that they grow together.- Confucius has a strong morality, but it has no connection with religion; Mohammed has a strong religion, but it has only the weakest connection with morality.* But the Bible presents this very peculiar phenomenon:
^ Whenever the devout life, with its spiritual aspirations and fervent longings, touches the scheme of Moslem theology, it must bend and break. For it, within Islam, there is no place, the enormous handicap of the dogmatic system is too great *' (''The Religious Attitude in Islam,'' by Professor Macdonald, p. 301).
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the religious ideas from the first involve morality, and the morality makes no pretence to any existence independent of religion. The morality of the New Testament is not that of the Old, nor is the religion of the New Testament that of the Old ; but the connection between religion and morality is the same in both. In the Old as in the New the morality is enforced by the religious sanction; in the New as in the Old the religion is ethical. In each case God is the highest goodness known; in each case obedience to God means being good. When new ideas of God evolve, or when new coromands of (Jod are given, the clearer knowledge of God is always a raising of the standard of morality, and likeness to God in an ethical sense is insisted on as the main demand of the religion.
For example, no passage takes us to the heart of the Jewish Law more rapidly than the suromary of the ceremonial and social regulations at the end of Leviticus. Amid much that has become obsolete
with the evolution of moral ideas, one principle stands out clearly; it is that of social justice. "Ye shall not wrong one another." The time has not come for extending the principle to other nations or to humanity; but for those who are members of the one community the duty of justice and even of love is uncompromising. That is the sum total of morality. No one is to do to another what he would not have done to himself. That is the doctrine of Confucius; it is also the law of Moses. But the
distinction of the law of Moses is in the sanction. If the Confucianist questions the Law, and asks, ''But why must I treat my neighbour in this way?" Confucius has no answer to give unless it be the prudential one: "You must treat your neighbour in this way in order that he may treat you in this way." But if, by power or influence, you see how you can make your neighbour treat you well without your treating him well, the sanction is gone. The
sanction of the law of Moses, on the other hand, lies in the nature and the rule of God: "Ye shall not wrong one another; but thou shalt fear thy God; for I am the Lord your God." * This is a fundamental diflference. It is (Jod, the final Authority and unquestioned Ruler of men, who requires this treatment of one's neighbour. It is from no prudential hope of getting good from others that you must do good to them. The duty rests on the nature and the will of God. The good one does to others from a prudential motive is hardly "good" in the ethical sense at all. It becomes good only when it is done with the good motive. And the good motive is only furnished by the religious idea that goodness is God, the Object of worship, the Sovereign to whom obedience is due.
In the New Testament this principle becomes both deeper and stronger. The goodness in the Divine nature receives a fuller illustration, and the sanction contained in it to induce goodness in men is both clearer and more cogent.
* Lev. XXV. 17.
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There is a little conjunction in the Epistle to Titus, a "for" which, as a pivot, carries more on it than, perhaps, any conjunction in the written words of men. It is found in Titus ii. ii. The life of a strict and lofty morality is enjoined in a few golden directions; it is sanctioned by the revelation of God that has been made in Christ, the grace of it, the promise of it. Here in the most concentrated form the Christian connection between religion and morality is expressed. We are required to be good, and the nature of the required goodness is defined by the fact that (Jod wishes to make us good, and has actively intervened in the affairs of men in order to effect His purpose. Possibly any ancient writer could have siunmarized what ought to be the character of the several ages and grades of humanity. In that respect the New Testament does not greatly differ from Seneca or Epictetus. In that respect the evolution of moral ideas may have carried us to-day
farther than the writer of this passage. Mankind has always felt that aged men ought to be temperate, grave, sober-minded, exhibiting love and patience. For aged women there is no greater glory than to be reverent in demeanour, refraining from slander and wine, handing down to their daughters the noble tradition of domestic order and fidelity. To make the home is still admittedly the first duty of women. But at this point we are already pushed farther than any writer (however inspired) of the first century could be. We take into account the women who will
never be wives, and conceive an ideal of public service for them which gives them their proper place and privileges in the commonwealth. We still demand that they should be chaste, but not necessarily that they should be "workers at home." As to those who are married we still desire them to be kind, but we should not lay stress on "being in subjection to their own husbands." Increasingly the married
relation must come under the great principle, "By love serve one atiotherJ^ For young men all ethical codes can agree that the master-virtue is what the Greeks call a'oi><f>poavvrf — that is, not the intellectual wisdom which makes a philosopher, but that judgment, balance, and sobriety which form the indispensable condition of effectiveness in life. Richard Feverel's heedlessness is flanked by the sterile wit of the Wise Youth; each is equally remote from the wisdom which is covered by the word "soberminded." Good works, right opinions, incorruptibility, dignity, true and strong speech, these are admittedly the virtues of manhood, the radiant manifestations of the right moral conditions. Passing to the directions for servants, we are again conscious of the immense forward thrust of our ethical ideals. Servants, in the sense of this passage, i.e., slaves, no longer exist in Christendom — at least, in Protestant Christendom.* But for the milder rela-
^ The practical slavery in Angola, and especially in S. Thom^ and Principe, forbids us to say that no Christian power tolerates slavery.
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tion of employer and employed, it is impossible to state more eflfectively the ethical idea of service to an employer — "not gainsaying, not purloining, but showing all good fidelity." Liberty is essential to a complete morality; but the liberty of a good servant may be just as genuine as the liberty of a master or of a king. For liberty is not emancipation from duty to others, but rather the opportimity to render that service eflfectively. The master is bound by his obligation to the State, and even to his servant; the king is bound by his duty to the laws and to his people. It has, therefore, always been perceived that a servant may ethically be as complete and as noble as any one else. And there is no fairer example of a true and even great character than one who by respect, by honesty, and by fidelity identifies himself with the interests of a master or a family. Very suitably this type of moral life is regarded in a special
degree as "adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things."
But now we come to the point. This moral life, briefly but sufficiently sketched for all ages and degrees, hinges upon the religious truth of the Christian revelation. This is the force of the potent for. The manifestation of Christ is presented as the motive and sanction for all details of good and heroic conduct. Let a child's remark light up the position. She was a very little girl; two pieces of cake were brought in for the two children, herself and her brother; she, after a moment's pause, selected the
smaller. Evening came and the chfld's prayers. That little choice had filled the child's mind during the day, and now she offered an explanation to her mother. " Do you know why I took the little piece ? " " Why ? " " 'Cos I remembered Jesus died." That is the secret of Christian morality, as it is expressed
in this passage, and as it has worked out ever since the passage was written.
^^For the grace of God hath appeared bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to the intent that, denying imgodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify imto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works."
The return to Christianity is not impossible, nay to the eye of faith it seems as good as certain. So great an idea, an idea so foreign to man in his primitive state, as the intimate identification of morality and religion, could hardly take possession of mankind at a bound. Some millennia of human evolution occurred before the idea was conceived. We are able in the Bible to trace at least a thousand years of the germination of the idea. In Christ it was above the surface of the soil, but, theoretically secure, it has
pushed for nigh two millennia more against the superincumbent obstacles. The old Paganism, and even
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the old Judaism, were strong. The whole Roman Empire attempted to crush it, or rather crushed, in attempting to exploit, it. The Pontifex Maximus of the Roman Empire is still the Pope. The prelates and priests of Christendom still exercise their fimctions in the similitude of the older order. Innumerable traditions, superstitions, and conventions prevent men from recognizing the identity of morality and religion which in Christ was once for all established. In Protestantism the Church twitched one arm free from her ancient bondage. It was liberation, but not yet emancipation. Emancipation yet lies in the future. It will come, because it is implied in the Christian truth, it is even explicit in the Christian documents. The world is to discover that Christian morality is inseparable from the Christian religion, and that Christianity is the reve33
lation of a perfect goodness in God for the purpose of producing perfect goodness in men. "Ye shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect."
Sometimes we light upon a character which gives large hints of perfection, and even oflfers reminiscences of Christ, a character singularly unlike the ideal of ancient morals, imlike Plato's philosopher hiding from the blast of reality imder the wall of idealism, unlike Aristotle's picture of the magnanimous man, strong, self-centred, self-conscious, dignij5ed, unlike even the pensive stoicism of M. Aurelius. This Christian character, embodiment of the Christian morality, product of the Christian revela-
tion, being unique in human experience, the fine flower of millennial evolution, aflfords a hope of what is yet to be. Such, some day, all men will be. It was my lot to know one such man. He endeared himself to all who knew him, and imdesignedly won
a reputation wide as the English-speaking race, and lasting, we may surmise, as that of all saints. This was Henry Drummond, of whom more than one averred that to be with him was to receive a singular impression of what manner of man Christ Himself might have been in the days of His flesh. If that is too strong a mode of speech, it is at least no exaggeration to say that, as his character was produced by an intimacy with Christ, so it was one which Christ would have fully approved. We could easily imagine Christ saying of him: "This is My beloved brother, in whom I am well pleased." Happily his books remain behind to show that things spoken of him in love and gratitude are not impossible. "Natiural Law in the Spiritual World" flashed like a meteor across the sky in the eighties. Every one read it. It had the vogue which a novel of Miss Corelli's would have in our day. The attempt to trace the same principle at work in the physical and in the religious spheres was condemned as imorthodox, but it was not shown to be imtrue. The germ of thought then sown has developed. We are more and more inclined to seek for such a monistic interpretation of the imiverse. But the breach with orthodoxy in the
interests of faith was characteristic of Drummond as
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it was of his Lord. There comes back to me a memorable episode in Harvard fifteen years ago. The secretaries of the Y.M.C.A.'s from all over the United States were met to confer, and the distinguished visitor was there to answer their questions. One secretary from the West, a champion of orthodozy, seeking encouragement and countenance for his conflict with unbelief, rose and said : " Professor Drummond, I should like to ask you what you would say if a man came to you and said that he did not believe everything that is stated in the Bible?" The quiet, cultured voice, and still more the smiling face and restful eyes, replied, "I should say that I agree with him." It was as if a bombshell had exploded in the room. No further explanation was given. It was just like those pregnant, far-reaching words of Jesus, which can never be forgotten and can never cease to operate.
Strange to say, the brochure "The Greatest Thing in the World" was also condemned by the orthodoxy of the time. To count Love the greatest thing in the world shocked religious people, to whom love was secondary. But it could not be denied that the writer had Christ on his side, and even Paul and the other Apostles. Perhaps no book ever had a wider or more effective circulation. If we may compare it with the dogma of papal infallibility which had been propounded by an Ecumenical Council fourteen years before, we may say that, while the influence of the brochure was almost as wide as the
dogma, it differed from the dogma in this : that the dogma was the death-blow of Roman Catholicism, and the brochure was the herald of Christian Catholicism.
I am not attempting to appraise the works of
Henry Dnmmiond, I am only drawing the portrait of the man; but it is impossible to pass by that scientific work, which was also a poem, that expansion of I Corinthians xiii. in terms of modem science, and the fullest knowledge we have as yet gained of man and of the universe, "The Ascent of Man." Here the world saw what gain there is in having its men of science Christian. Haeckel can give the facts of evolution, but he is totally unable to interpret them. He handles the riddle of the universe on the plea of solving it; but he leaves it not only insoluble, but disheartening. He borders on pessimism. The imiverse, as he sees it, has no reason for existence, and no goal, beyond the transitory sensations of existing organisms. Drummond does not discover the facts, he only knows them as discovered; but he interprets them. Running through the whole evolutionary process he finds Love. Darwin dwelt on the struggle for existence as the determining factor in organic evolution. Drummond dwelt on the equally indisputable fact, the struggle for the life of others. Was not mother-love, emerging in even the lowest organisms, and rising in the highest to realms of religion and eternity, as constant and incontestable
a phenomenon of world-experience?
88 GREAT ISSUES
Working on this line, the man of science, who is also the seer, sees the universe as not unintelligible nor aimless. Love is creation's final law. The whole process is interpreted, science repeats in her own way the assertion of theology that God is Love. It becomes probable even from the constitution of things and from the evolution of all life, that each man's life is his chance of learning love, what love is, and how it came to be.
But to return to the writer of the books. He drew around him the young manhood of Edinburgh. The students were at home with him. From him Christianity came without oflFence, and was established, because it was accurately exemplified in his person. In London he spoke to audiences of the wealthy and cultivated. The same convincing power attended his words.
One of his peculiarities was to dress with the utmost nicety; no man of fashion would have felt ashamed to walk with him in the Mall. I do not know whether he saw a s)anbolic meaning in the seamless coat which Jesus wore. But it was as native to him to bear distinction in, dress and demeanour as it was impossible that the Divine characteristics of Christ should be hid. The tall, erect figure, faultlessly dressed, the light hair, thrown back, the deep-set burning eyes, the sensitive, refined features, the quiet manner, the musical voice, the easy flow of beautiful language, the picturesqueness of thought, the sense of truth, the subdued emotion.
made a personality that arrested and enchained attention. One involuntarily said, ''Such should all men be." I remember that there was in him a surprising serenity. He worked hard, he had an overwhelming burden of engagements, he was in
ever-growing demand. But he was never in a hurry. He seemed to have full leisure for you. He was equally ready to hear and to speak. The feeling he gave you was that, though he was for the moment walking and living in time, he came out of eternity. He had the bearing and the manners of that unhasting life.
No man m so brief a life ever impressed the world more widely or eCFected more. Great multitudes followed him and found in him their leader and teacher. But he gave you no sense of effort : it was not as if he did an3rthing, but rather as if God was working in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. As Ian Maclaren said: ''From first to last he was guided by an inner light which never led him astray, and in the afterglow his whole life is a simple and perfect harmony." * Another friend, who knew him well, Dr. Robertson Nicoll, confirms the impression which was made on me, and sheds further light on the character. In the memorial sketch occur these words: "He wrote brightly and swiftly, and would have made an excellent journalist. But everything he published was elaborated with the most
scrupulous care. I have never seen manuscripts
» "The Ideal Life," p. 36.
go GREAT ISSUES
SO carefully revised as his. All he did was apparendy done with ease, but there was immense labour behind it. Although in orders, he used neither the title nor the dress that go with them, but preferred to regard himself as a la}rman. He had a deep sense of the value of the Church and its work, but I think was not himself connected with any Church, and never attended public worship unless he tho ght the preacher had some lesson for him. He seemed to be invariably in good spirits an invariably disengaged. He was always ready for any and every office of friendship. It should be said that though few men were more criticised or misconceived, he himself never wrote an unkind word about any one, never retaliated, never bore malice, and could do full justice to the abilities and character of his oppo42
nents. I have just heard that he exerted himself privately to secure an appointment for one of his most trenchant critics, and was successful." *
Here is the finished picture of a Christian; here are gleams and outlines, appearing not altogether fitfully and disconnectedly, of the character of Jesus Himself. No treatise on ethics could convey so completely what a Christian character is as this concrete example of a Christian man. In one thing alone does the copy fall short of the original. It was given to Drummond to live for men. This he did with a good will. One might even say that in a bright and simny sense he gave himself for us. But
» "The Ideal Life," p. i8.
the redemptive death of Jesus he was not able to imitate. Many a martyr for truth or in the missionfield has been permitted to imitate more closely that
redemptive death. It is not an exaggeration to say, for instance, that Livingstone by his death at Ilala has redeemed the dark continent. Men who fell far short of Drummond's ideal character have in theu* deaths been allowed to reproduce, in a limited and himian degree, the work of Christ's Cross. Drummond lived the life, and taught it by living it. He was one who involuntarily suggested Christ. And yet the manner of his death was in harmony with the life and the general impression that he made. With Dr. Nicoll's words I will close this adumbration of the character which illustrates the identity of religion and morality :
"The end came suddenly, from failure of the heart. Those with him received only a few hours' warning of his critical condition. It was not like death. He lay on his couch in the drawing-room, and passed away in his sleep, with the sun shining in and the birds singing at the open window. ... It recalled what he himself said of a friend's death: putting by the well-worn tools without a sigh, and expecting elsewhere better work to do."
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
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